Man of Action
Animated plea for urban renewal connected with 1950s efforts to "redevelop" American city centers.
Run time 13:21Producer Transfilm ProductionsSponsor Continental Can CompanyAudio/Visual Sd, C
VO: "This is the story of an average sort of fellow who lives in a nice average home, in a nice average town. Every night he comes home to his nice average house and in due time he goes to sleep."
Cartoon of man walking down an average street
Cartoon of man sleeping with construction noises outside
VO: "One morning...."
Man wakes up, looks out window and runs out of house in a panic to find that he now lives in a slum area.
Cartoon of slum area
Slum building exterior
More slum exteriors
More slum exteriors
More slum streets
Weird tale blaming the devil for slums
July 4, 2006
The Devil Meets the Average Homeowner
This animated film features an âaverage fellowâ who meets the Devil (or his envoy, anyway), who has a plan to turn his nice neighborhood into a slum. The devilish character tells the homeowner all about the recent transformation of Paradise Gardens, a housing development that the homeownerâs grandfather used to live in, from a suburb to a slum, and how the homeownerâs neighborhood is right on schedule in his slum transformation book. The homeowner bucks the devilâs urban planner by stealing his book and going to the city council to try to get them to take steps to prevent the creation of further slums. Predictably, the council thinks the guy is a crackpot and throws him out, while the landlords buck for no change at all. However, when the homeowner uses the stolen book to accurately predict the fall of an old decrepit factory chimney, he gets public support, and the whole town ends up working together to drive the devilâs envoy out of town by fixing up their neighborhoods. This is a fun film to watch because the animation is well done, the visuals, especially of slums, are dark and striking, and the story is lively. It predictably oversimplifies the problems of urban renewal, but at least it emphasizes the importance of collective action being essential for any real change to happen, which is a change from many films of its period, which tend to blame individuals. The film has historical value in documenting the attitudes promoted by the early urban renewal movement. And, like I always say, you canât go wrong with supernatural visitors.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
May 15, 2004
The Devil Did It
A memorable animated feature with a great bluesy sound track and a simple message: that neighborhoods can organize to defeat the "devil of decay" before it wrecks them.
Nothing wrong with the message here, except that it glosses over the complex reasons for the decay of many neighborhoods in the mid-20th century, reasons which include white flight, the rise of the automobile, and other political factors.
One might further argue that "urban renewal" - which this film calls for, often did more harm than good, but this is all Monday Morning quarterbacking. A very entertaining, highly recommended little movie.
November 26, 2003
Slumlord = The Devil
HIGHLY entertaining look at urban renewal. A man lets his house go to waste. When the devil (or should I say, "The devil's associate" comes a knocking because according to the associate's book it's about to fall, the man argues there's nothing the matter with his house. The associate disagrees and they take a trip to Paradise Gardens, where the man shudders and says "It's a slum!". It didn't use to be, it was all peaceful, until CARS came in! (which is peculiar). Convinced by this, the man steals the associate's book and fights city hall, which is nothing but paper-pushing and stalling. The man finally just takes action in his own hands and goes to a community and convinces a community that it's factory chimney is about to fall, which it does. After this, the city snaps to attention to clean itself up. The last shot we see the man throwing some rubbish away, including the book. The associate appears from the smoke, book in hand, undaunted. Is YOUR town next? Brrrrr! Highly reccomended!
November 2, 2003
The devil is in the details
"Average Fo" (faux? foe?*) wakes up to find his pleasant suburban home urbanized and is outraged. Luckily the Devil (uncredited voice but I'm sure it's Ray Walston) shows up to explain things, with a book to prove it! Average Fo steals the book but City Hall only cares about the tax complaint of the slum lords. So it's off to the slums where the book says a disaster is about to happen. Our hero saves the day and begins a campaign that hopes a coat of paint will keep the devil away (as if the care you take of your property matters one iota to eminent domain condemnation). The stylized devil is well done but otherwise animation is average.
* The "Shotlist" below says this is "fellow" as if the film was damaged and spliced here. There is no splice and it most certainly is not "fellow".